"Our kids deserve better:" Lawmakers propose allowing school board president to fill vacant seats

RACINE -- The Racine Unified School District's Board of Education is having a hard time filling a vacant seat. Board members are deadlocked, as state lawmakers are proposing a law that would allow the school board's president to appoint someone to fill the seat.

The seat has been vacant since May.

The proposal by two state lawmakers isn't sitting well with the Racine Education Association. Officials with the teachers union say lawmakers in Madison are trying to strip away local control.

Jen Levie

"It`s not in the best interest of our kids. It`s not in the best interest of our community," Jen Levie, president of the Racine Education Association said.

School starts Tuesday, September 1st for Racine Unified School District students.

Officials with the Racine Education Association are fired up about the proposal by two state lawmakers to break a long-standing tie over a vacant school board seat.

"This is state government getting involved in local politics, and that`s completely unacceptable and undemocratic," Levie said.

In May, a newly-elected school board member resigned.

The Racine Unified School District's Board of Education needed a majority vote to decide on a replacement. The board voted 35 times -- never reaching the necessary number of votes.

Van Wanggaard

"35 times deadlocked is kind of ridiculous. Like I said, they are not electing the pope here. This is a school board member who is going to be replaced in six to seven months from now," Scott Kelly said.

Kelly is the chief of staff for Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). Wanggaard has helped to draft the bill that would allow school board presidents to fill open seats if the position remains vacant for at least 60 days.

"If there was a way for this to be resolved locally, we wouldn`t have to get involved at all. But apparently, they are either unable or unwilling to do so," Kelly said.

"They do not know how to run a school district. They were not elected as school board members," Levie said.

Racine Education Association officials say this is an issue that shouldn't be solved from Madison.

"Our kids deserve better," Levie said.

Racine Unified School District

"We`re two months from setting a levy in Racine, three months from property taxes being paid and the budget and there is no direction because they keep tying on their votes," Kelly said.

Time will tell whether, after 35 votes, the next will come from Madison.

This vacant Racine Unified School District Board of Education seat is an important one -- as the person filling the seat can help break ties on the nine-seat board.

Voters will choose candidates to fill all board seats in April -- but before then, things like the budget will be voted on, and teachers union officials say voters should select the person to fill this vacant seat -- not the board's president.